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A marketplace solution for IoT development through decentralized smart contract ledger

Why Internet of Things matter

The Internet of Things (IoT), as many may be aware, is a network of things connected through the internet. These things could be any device from simple appliances such as coffee makers and light bulbs to complex ones like vehicles etc. Wouldn’t you love it if your bike or car could automatically communicate to the manufacturer when it requires servicing? Or imagine if somehow cars were able to communicate to each other and thereby, automatically adjust speed or other parameters or alert you to ensure a smooth ride.

This is the potential IoT has which has caused proliferation of startups dealing with IoT development and motivated heavy investments by major corporations.  Spending globally on IoT is projected to reach $772.5 billion in 2018 as per IDC. According to Gartner, about 20.8 billion devices are expected to be connected by 2020, approximately three times that of the current seven billion world population.

Despite all this excitement surrounding IoT, the companies involved in IoT development are already experiencing a huge shortage of relevant skills. In research published by Inmarsat titled ‘The Future of Enterprise in IoT -2017’ conducted by interviewing respondents representing 500 organizations involved in IoT based solutions, a startling 47% said there is a lack of necessary skills in IoT and only 20% felt that they had the requisite skills.

As a result of this shortage, the research found that organizations are looking towards working in a collaborative manner to fill the skill gaps in IoT to deliver IoT solutions successfully. This is strikingly in contrast to all the projections and surveys as seen above; it even goes completely against the estimation of the number of jobs created.

According to India’s telecom secretary, Aruna Sundararajan, 10-15 million jobs are estimated to be created in India alone through IoT. So, one could optimistically speculate that the possible number of global job creation through IoT would be upwards of the above figure. Hence, the potential of IoT is truly tremendous but it is also evident that there needs to be some innovative way to get around the problem of skill shortage. According to Chandramouli Srinivasan, CEO of Hurify, “We’ve identified the IoT skills gap as the single biggest barrier to development and deployment of IoT solutions, and this is especially problematic for smaller organizations that don’t have the scale to maintain all the complex skill sets internally.

Smart contracts – a potential solution?

Before elaborating on how it could be a game changer, a brief overview on what smart contracts are and what it does can prove helpful.

A smart contract, as shown in the infographic, is a digital contract or a protocol in the form of code that executes a function depending on the terms involved in a contract. The key here is that it enforces an action automatically depending on whether the terms in the contract have been fulfilled or not upon an event. Essentially, smart contracts function like an if-else loop used in programming.

Alternatively, to get a clearer picture, their functionality can be likened to that of a vending machine wherein a person gets a product only if a condition is met, which is, to drop the exact amount of money of the product into the money slot.

Otherwise, the person cannot have the desired item. Smart contracts are based on blockchain technology and hence, it works in a decentralized manner ensuring security and immutability of the contract. Ethereum is one such private blockchain platform that enables the creation of smart contracts. As it is based on the blockchain, it enables a decentralized database that serves as public ledger where the nodes in the network store the contract and keep track of the changing state of contracts by having the codes run at those nodes.

To put into a perspective, Google docs can be taken as a crude example of decentralization and of changing states in a contract, where, any changes in the document can be viewed instantaneously by all the users with whom it has been shared.

However, the difference is that such alterations are not possible in blockchain network but only the changes as enabled by the terms in a contract may be recorded subject to the verification of the users.

So how exactly does a smart contract serve as a solution to IoT development?

Smart contracts can alleviate skill shortage by enabling a contract based hiring through a platform where clients can access a number of developers across the world and with whom they can sign up a contract. As IoT development requires input from developers in different domains like cloud, edge and data analytics, app development, embedded software development and etc., corporations seek collaborative ways of working on it.

Due to this nature of work, smart contracts can enable developers to contribute remotely and become part of major IoT developments which improves the profile of such developers while it also provides financial incentives. Therefore, the clients benefit from having the best developers while maintaining minimum logistical needs.

Smart contracts based solution providers

While there are a number of companies such as LeewayHertz, Techracers, Attores and etc., who offer solutions in smart contracts based on Ethereum platform, Hurify is a company that seeks to offer something unique and relevant to IoT.

Hurify is building out a platform for companies and developers to connect and to work on IoT projects. Hurify enables this by implementing a smart contract system whereby clients and developers enter into contracts for projects. The payment method relies on Hurify’s HUR token system based on Ethereum’s ERC20 token standard. Upon successful completion of projects, tokens are automatically disbursed from pre-verified accounts. So the entire platform may seem similar to job boards, however, in essence, it stands out by setting up an ecosystem for providing employment and is specifically tailored to IoT development alone.

Also, the Hurify platform is intended to be a complete project design and development ecosystem, and in addition finding skilled developers, companies can integrate their hardware purchasing with the system.  For example, a company could send development hardware purchased with HUR tokens to developers in order to provide owner supplied materials across the globe. Future developments anticipate potentially monetizing total IoT solutions from design through deployment.

In conclusion, given the potential of IoT to become a game changer in shaping the future of world economy, it is necessary to avoid stifling the growth of IoT. In addition, realizing its scope and the complexity involved, collaborative ways of development may be the only feasible solution available for now and therefore, innovative solutions that technologies like blockchain and smart contracts offer requires to be heeded.